More Retribution Rather than Resolution

The sheriff shows us all once again how incapable she is of working with the DSA and the deputies that work for her. That she is far more interested in punishing deputies and attempting to create strife within the DSA body than having a functioning office. Honestly, I can’t even fathom what logic there is to refusing to resolve these issues — everyone else seems capable, the DSA is waiting at the table and the sheriff is playing games. I can’t help but wonder what the people she assured during the election that she could work with the DSA are thinking at this point. That she lied to them? Much like the DSA felt after the last time they endorsed her based on a bunch of false promises, empty words, and worthless assurances.

The letter sent out by the Undersheriff addressing the administration’s latest action in “resolving” the Pay Jobs issue shows how obtuse and willfully deaf the Laurie Smith administration continues to be in regards to working with the DSA and improving the office. This isn’t a “special case” problem that doesn’t have solid functioning resolutions within the California law enforcement community. There are several ways to resolve the issues, some of which were pointed out by the DSA previously.

But because the sheriff doesn’t, for who knows what reason, want to ensure her deputies security on Pay Jobs, doesn’t care how this will ultimately impact the county, she is going to punish the deputies, she is going to punish the entities that use the service, and who knows what she’s going to do with the positions that she’s committed deputies to through this program to assignments like the one in Los Altos Hills. Or maybe she’ll cover those positions with overtime like they should probably be covered to begin with anyway. I mean, I can’t imagine her punishing her contract cities, she might not get her “Best Business in Town” awards next year (more on this effort later). You know…priorities, we all have them.

The sheriff’s “solution”?  Move these jobs over to reserves, with even less protections.  There are two issues here — one is the increasing national spotlight on how reserves are used by agencies after several high profile incidents.  Here’s the one that bothers me even more though — reserves are not employees, they are UNPAID volunteers.  With the sheriff’s already questionable accounting practices, the possibilities for further corruption here leave the head spinning.

Sheriff, since you can’t sit down like a professional and address issues in your office with the DSA, perhaps you should seek the Board of Supervisors assistance in contracting a mediator to help you get beyond whatever personal issues you have in speaking directly to the DSA.

Anyway, rather than go into finite detail on the sheriff’s latest candy aisle hissy fit over the DSA pushing to resolve issues, I’ll let you read both the DSA’s response and the letter from the Undersheriff. I think the DSA sufficiently addresses the tone deaf letter from the administration.

From the DSA:

Dear DSA Member,

As was rumored, and confirmed by the Undersheriff at the DSA’s last General Membership meeting, the Sheriff has prohibited regular deputies from working “pay job” details contracted and managed by the Sheriff’s Office.

Given the Sheriff’s history, her reaction is of no surprise to the DSA Board nor likely to a majority of the membership. Over the past several years, the DSA has tried to work with the County and the Sheriff to resolve issues like this one, where the DSA believes there is a clear violation of the law, or the DSA’s MOU. Pay jobs is another case in point.

The DSA has proven to be right more often than not. Think about: 1) Special Duty Deputies not paid in compliance with PEPRA, and 2) the Holiday Pay/Medical Benefits arbitration. Both of those cases were resolved in the DSA’s favor. In fact, in the Special Duty Deputies case, the judge wrote in his decision, “I find the County’s arguments irrelevant.” In both matters, we made every effort to resolve the dispute collaboratively. Only when those efforts were rebuffed did we litigate.

The DSA Board and our legal counsel have looked at the law, the long-term risk to the membership, and the examples of how other agencies handle secondary employment. Based on our understanding, the Sheriff’s action of banning DSA members from pay jobs does not add up. Instead, this reaction appears to be political in nature and likely an attempt to apply pressure to the DSA to concede by hurting you, the members.

The Undersheriff’s memo focuses entirely on pay as the sole issue. The Undersheriff does not address the shift in civil liability, the risk of no 4850 coverage, the risk of not qualifying for an industrial retirement if injured, the change in scope which affects our LDF coverage, and the risk of not having qualified immunity. Let’s be clear, if pay was the only issue then the increase of the pay rate by the Sheriff’s “own volition” would have filled the positions. By the Sheriff Administration’s own admission, they can’t fill the jobs. Their response to the unfilled jobs was to continue on their course and use Extra-Help Deputies. They increased the rate again after our recent wage increases and again they saw the same result, the jobs went unfilled. All along the DSA has told the Sheriff and her administration that raising pay would not solve the underlying problems. It appears our concerns continue to fall on deaf ears.

The pay job unit is not experiencing “ongoing burden” because the DSA raised questions and challenged the lawfulness of the current pay job model. The pay job unit has experienced ongoing burdens because we are being asked to perform our normal law enforcement function for less pay, less protections, and with greater personal risk. It has been two months since the DSA filed our concerns with the Sheriff and the County and yet we have heard nothing. If our concerns were not valid it would be reasonable to see a swift response citing the information we requested.

The Undersheriff misstates the facts about the Board of Supervisor’s involvement in this matter. The Board of Supervisors has already discussed the “wedding” type scenarios in 2007 and has delegated a “limited” scope of authority for the Sheriff to handle such requests. The Legislature and the Government Code has made it VERY clear that the Board of Supervisors has the sole authority to contract on behalf of the Sheriff for secondary police services (GC 53069.8). So why would the County care? Because when something goes bad, it’s the County that pays the bill, not the Sheriff. We are employees of the County, appointed as Deputies of the Sheriff, and subject to the rules of both the County and the Sheriff. Our MOU is an agreement between the County and the DSA, not between the Sheriff and the DSA.

Of the many choices available to the Sheriff to resolve the problems created by the current pay job model, she has chosen a path to ban DSA members from working them. If pay jobs go away, the decision will be that of the Sheriff alone.

This conflict has a simple solution; follow the models developed by agencies like Los Angeles and San Mateo Counties. Those models comply with the government code and the intent of the legislature. This will ensure the County and DSA members are fully compensated and protected for performing their job; law enforcement. Our goal from the beginning of this dispute has been focused on protecting the membership and given this recent decision it is clear we are not done.

– DSA Board –

(the Undersheriff’s Memo is attached for your review)

From the Undersheriff:



One thought on “More Retribution Rather than Resolution

  1. Everyone should be concerned about their long term ability to be self reliant, and risking a career ending injury going into a chosen (pay) job with uncertainty of 4850 coverage is not a worthwhile risk.


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